Last week in the Capitol, virtually all the attention was focused on the tragic occurrences at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, FL. Thousands of students from MSD and other schools ascended on the Capitol to be heard on concerns concerning their safety in schools. This has been a game changer in discussions on many fronts.
Focus at the Capitol
Along with gun control, leadership in both the House and Senate are now focused on this issue which includes additional funding for mental health issues, and funding for “hardening” school buildings. This is one of the factors holding up budget negotiations, as they are unexpectedly having to re-prioritize funding needs. Session is scheduled to end March 9th, but there are rumblings the budget will not be done on time and they will have to extend, or adjourn and come back in special session exclusively for the budget.
- Why this impacts us: EVERYTHING else has dropped a level in importance compared to the tragedy. MSD is top of mind for everyone and we must be sensitive to this terrible situation. We have to be even more diligent in our outreach to legislators and Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) members about our issues to keep it on their list of priorities.
Constitution Revision Commission
Your AHA grassroots team lead by Julie Howell continues working on many fronts to secure volunteers to speak, get them registered, provide attendees with information regarding the meeting format, etc. We urge you to make as many of these hearings as possible on the list below, please let Julie know if you can attend! She can be reached at Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well, our local communications team members, and communications point person, Heather Grzelka, have worked closely with their counterparts from the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association to implement a communications plan that includes earned and paid media strategies that will get our efforts to oppose Proposal 94 the maximum possible media coverage.
CRC meetings were held this past week in Melbourne and Jacksonville. Our presence was felt as many of our issue-specific speakers were wearing identical message tee shirts! The message is being heard, but still needs to be heard louder and by more people from all community demographic groups.
Meetings where we still need your presence and voice:
- Monday, March 5th, from 1:00-7:00 p.m. EST – The Westin, 5951 Silver King Blvd., Cape Coral 33914
- Tuesday, March 13th , from 1:00-7:00 p.m. EST - University of South Florida, University Student Center, 200 6th Ave South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
To recap, Proposal 94, by Commissioner Nunez, will redirect funding away from Tobacco Free Florida’s prevention efforts and over to cancer research. It will also permit the legislature to determine the proportion of funds that go to prevention advertising. This defies the direct wishes of the voting public! Given the legislature is subject to pressure from the tobacco industry, this is an unacceptable option.
We continue to wait for a decision by the Senate President whether he will authorize a study by the legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability (OPPAGA) on the Tobacco 21 issue. OPPAGA is Florida’s version of the Federal Congressional Research Service.
As we’ve mentioned previously, the Tobacco 21 legislation (SB 1288) was “workshopped” in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Having a workshop means we’ve taken another step in moving the issue forward.
- HB 1029 – Reps. Lori Berman, Bill Hager (and 10 others). Referred to Careers & Competition Subcommittee; Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee; Commerce Committee. Not yet heard in any committee.
- SB 1288 – Sen. David Simmons (and others). Regulated Industries Committee; Commerce & Tourism Committee; Rules Committee. Workshopped in Regulated Industries committee, but no vote taken.
Legislation to create a data registry for patients suffering an STEMI heart attack (also known as the Widow Maker Heart Attack) remains stalled. We have worked diligently to find another bill, a “vehicle,” on which we can amend the STEMI language. We believe we have found that “vehicle” and should know in the next two weeks whether or not we will be successful.
- HB 1313 – Rep. Lawrence McClure (and others). Referred to Health Innovations Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; and Health and Human Services Committee. We are attempting to attach this language to several bills that are moving.
- SB 1032 – Sen Dennis Baxley. Referred to Health Policy Committee; Appropriations Committee on Health & Human Services; and Appropriations Committee. Also, possibly amended on other moving bill.